Discovery and Diversity – the 1900’s
“Crime must be repressed. We are all of one mind as to that. In order to the repression of crime, the criminal must be eliminated. By how? By his destruction? Or by his redemption? Is he to be killed or cured? Must we push him down or pull him up?…One thing, however, may with confidence be said. Progress from barbarism to civilization has been characterized by the growth of the humanitarian spirit.” – Proceedings of the Annual Congress of the National Prison Association of the United States, Dr. Frederick H. Wines, 1907
Crime, Drugs and Alcohol Become National Issues
The 1900s was a century of scientific and humanitarian discoveries. Cars went from being a sport to a necessity, and Neil Armstrong made it to the moon. The century began with the first coast-coast phone call, and ended with a worldwide Internet. Child labor and unsafe working conditions were ushered out, and regulations and safety measures were ushered in. Human rights mattered. Discrimination was recognized, civil rights were fought for, and constitutional amendments were made. Conversations about driving under the influence of alcohol went from the local tavern to White House policy agendas, and drug use became a part of political platforms and popular culture. The death penalty was abolished and then brought back to life. Marijuana, Drinking and Driving, and Drugs were attacked and laws drastically modified. Felonies were ungrouped, regrouped and reclassified. The federal government more than doubled in size. Crime became a national issue.
Drinking Warranted Constitutional Change, Driving Did Not
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was made clear that Americans liked cars and alcohol, but had a love-hate relationship with both. The first DUI offense <link to First DUI 1900 Part 4(a) article if not put together> happened just before the turn of the century. Public intoxication was a bigger crime than drinking and driving. Legislative debates were held for and against driver licenses, and for and against banning alcohol.
States started putting driver license requirements on the books in the early 1900s, and activists against alcohol (members of the Temperance movement and the Anti-Saloon League) succeeded in legally banning the sale, transfer, and making of alcoholic beverages. Drinking was a bigger issue than driving. Licensing was left to the states, and drinking was a matter of national concern.
The Volstead Act (H.R. 6810), the legislative bill to create a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol, was first vetoed by then-president Woodrow Wilson, but Congress had enough votes to override the veto. “Intoxicating” alcohol was any type that had half of one-percent. Beer and wine across the nation was dumped, and no compensation was provided. The 18th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution (ratified January 16, 1919) to prohibit alcohol in the United States. For fourteen years, the country was officially dry.
“Prohibition of alcohol, also called the “noble experiment,” was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in the United States.” – Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, Phillip J. Cook, 2007
Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1933.
Not all Colorado Towns Embraced Prohibition’s Repeal
Colorado jumped on the prohibition bandwagon early. The towns of Greely, Windsor, Eaton, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins, and Boulder joined in the early push to prohibit alcohol by making saloons illegal. A statewide ban on alcohol was in effect in 1916, three years before alcohol was banned across the nation.
Some towns, like Greely Colorado, an early dry city that sits about an hour north of Denver, embraced a drinking ban even after Prohibition’s repeal. However, not all Colorado Greely residents were as sober-minded. The drinking crowd of Greely that was happy to see Prohibition’s repeal branched off and formed Colorado’s new town of Garden City. Today, Greely has breweries and taverns, but is not embracing commercial marijuana. Greely’s drinking neighbor, Garden City, is. Long after Prohibition’s 1933 repeal, Denver would host the national office for The Prohibition Party, a third-party that supports prohibition of alcohol.
The religious arguments and tax-based arguments that worked in 1918 didn’t work in 1933. Prohibition was a failed, albeit “noble” experiment.
Death Penalty Sentencing in Colorado Changes
During the same year of Prohibition’s repeal, Colorado changed the felony death penalty sentencing laws. Up until 1933, capital crimes were punishable by hanging. In 1933, after failed Senate attempts to abolish the death penalty and a botched hanging, then-Governor Edwin C. Johnson signed a bill to change execution methods to lethal injection (Act of Mar. 31, 1933, ch. 61, 1933 Colo. Sess. Laws, 420–22). (Colorado had previously abolished the death penalty for a brief period from 1897 to 1901.)
Federal Regulations Start Governing Drugs
Legislative halls were filled with debates whether regulation was a state or federal matter. During prohibition, the need for uniform federal codes increased with concerns over trafficking. Prior to prohibition, federal regulations were primarily concerned with money, fraud and immigration.
The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 began federal regulation of food and drugs for consumer protection. Cocaine, heroin and animal secretions were being put into bottles as ingredients in products sold to consumers for consumption or treatment. This Act later led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration.
In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Act started taxing opium and cocoa leaves, and required distributors to be registered. The purpose was to create revenue, but it was also viewed as a method to bring public attention to opium use, and to control drug abuse.
Narcotic Farms for Prisoner Rehabilitation
In 1929, legislation for “narcotic farms” was a fresh idea on the table. A narcotic farm was not a place to grow drugs, but a place to treat addicts—needed because of the overflow of addicts the prisons received after the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. The ultimatum was brought to legislators: bring the addicts to prisons or specialized treatment hospitals. The Porter Narcotic Farm Act of 1929 began treatment outside of prisons. The “Narcotic Farm” bill started the Public Health Service Narcotic Division, which later morphed into the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Today, we refer to these narcotic farms as Public Health Service Hospitals.
“Addicts will no longer be merely sent to prison for what is really a weakness, but will begin the best medical treatment that science can afford in an atmosphere designed to rehabilitate them spiritually, mentally, and physically.” Sanford Bates, founding director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1930 to 1937, University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center
Drugs were a state and federal problem. The Uniform State Narcotic Act of 1932 was signed so that states could have guidelines for narcotic laws and work cohesively with federal laws, but it also generated from the growing concern over marijuana. Within 18 years, all states had adopted the Act.
Connecting the Country
At the Seventh Annual Convention of the American Association of State Highway Officials, the paramount issue of funding was addressed, as well as the issues of beauty, design and safety. Highway design was a means to reduce deaths due to drinking and driving, and it was a federal concern.
“Highways must be designed for the reckless, the thoughtless, and the intoxicated.” – A.R. Hirst, State Highway Engineer, Safety and Beauty as Factors in Road Design and Construction
Drinking and driving gained more attention once Prohibition was repealed and cross-country highway construction was underway, but interest in prohibiting alcohol soon turned to marijuana.
The Influence of Marijuana and the Media
Pre-1930s Colorado Criminalizes Cannabis
Marijuana at the time was regulated largely by the states. Cannabis was illegal to cultivate and use in Colorado back in 1917 (Ch. 39, Act Mar. 30, 1917), when cannabis was then added to the existing 1915 Act on habit forming drugs that made opium and coca leaves illegal in Colorado. In 1917, growing cannabis or using cannabis “he has grown” was a misdemeanor and subject to a fine between $10 and $100, or maximum of 30 days in jail, or both. The law is found under Public Health Laws, habit-forming drugs, sale and dispensing. It was known as cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, Indian Hemp, and mariguana [sic].
The same year, Peyote (anahalonium, a cactus with mescaline, a hallucinogen) use and distribution was made illegal, but the fines were higher than cannabis. Fines were designated to be between $160 and $300 dollars, and prison sentences could run from 30 days to six months. Every second offense within five years was deemed a felony, with one to three years of hard labor in the state penitentiary.
Marijuana Propaganda and Harry Anslinger
During the “lawless years” of Prohibition, the newly formed FBI recognized that public support of the agency was needed, and there was a greater need for drug control. The Bureau of Narcotics was formed in 1930, and someone was needed to head the department. Harry Anslinger had a stellar record working World War 1 and Prohibition, and had married the niece of his future boss—the banking tycoon, Andrew Mellon, then U.S. Treasury Secretary. Harry Anslinger was also supported by Randolph William Hearst, the owner of the nation’s largest newspaper chain, and known for its yellow journalism. In 1930, Harry Jacob Anslinger was assigned Commissioner to the Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Anslinger worked for the government from 1918 to 1963, and worked as Commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1963.
Newspapers were used to publicize and sensationalize stories of felony crimes committed under the influence of marijuana. Colorado’s Alamosa Daily Courier blamed a rape attack on marijuana’s influence in 1936. In Colorado at that time, using or growing marijuana was a misdemeanor, and a second offense was a felony. The City Editor, Floyd K. Baskette, wrote the Bureau of Narcotics asking for assistance with the marihuana problem. He indicated the problem was so great because of the Spanish-speaking residents.
I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions. – Floyd K. Baskette to U.S. Treasury Department 1936
Later, Harry Anslinger used the case as an example during a congressional session.
By 1933, the Great Depression demanded federal highway funds be used to create jobs, and relief spending be used to help lower property crimes. But unemployment was still at record high. Jobs were coveted. Mexican immigrants were a perceived threat to American job opportunities, and public resentment of Mexican immigrants grew. The message spread that Mexicans were the suppliers and smokers of marijuana, though Mexican arrests were barely 6% of marijuana arrests at the time. Because Mexicans were associated with marijuana, marijuana became “un-American.”
|Quote from Reefer Madness:
After the great depression when the fear of Mexicans taking American jobs subsided, the Blacks and jazz musicians were the smokers were the evil-influencers. Anslinger kept reports on court cases where marijuana was involved, and kept files on musicians.
Propaganda created stereotypes and fear of the drug, and its users. Many websites, books and magazines attribute the following quotes to Harry Anslinger:
“Marihuana is “a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine.” Authority for this statement is United States Commissioner of Narcotics H. J. Anslinger. . . . the drug is adhering to its Old World traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown.” Scientific American – May 1938
“Marihuana is contributing to our alarming wave of sex crimes.” Marihuana: Assassin of the Youth, American Magazine, 1937
“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.” Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief, Harry J. Anslinger, 1948
Medical research on marijuana was lacking, and marijuana was even used in a top-secret attempt to get spies to tell the truth.
1937 Marijuana Tax Act
In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act (originally spelled as the Marihuana Tax Act) passed. Though by this time every state had some type of law against marijuana, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal to manufacture or distribute marijuana without notice, a registered form from the Secretary of State, and payment of an unreasonably high tax. The Act provided for seizure of the marijuana, and the marijuana could be destroyed or sent to a government department. Violating the 1937 Marijuana Act meant a maximum $2,000 fine or imprisonment of up to five years, or a combination of both. Messing with the stamps was a misdemeanor, and a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to five years in prison, or both. The strategy was to virtually outlaw marijuana by making the tax unreasonable. The same strategy was used in the Firearms Act of 1934 which regulated machine guns by requiring a tax stamp.
Marijuana Criminals Busted in Denver, Colorado on Marijuana Tax Act
Two men in Denver, Colorado were the first to be prosecuted under the 1937 Marijuana law. Records show they had approximately two joints of weed, though there are some historical conflicts over the reported facts of the case. Samuel Caldwell and Moses Baca were made an example to the public. The Federal Narcotic Commissioner Harry Anslinger showed up at the trial, and Judge Foster Symes showed his despise (and gave a nod to Harry Anslinger) for marijuana in his remarks.
“I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics-far worse than the use or [sic] morphine or cocaine. Under its influence men become beasts, just as was the case with Baca. Marijuana destroys life itself. I have no sympathy with those who sell this weed. In [the] future I will impose the heaviest penalties. ” – Judge Foster Symes, 1937
The men both had priors. Caldwell, in his 50s and previously guilty of violating Prohibition alcohol laws, was sentenced to four years hard labor at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth (Kansas). Moses Baca, who also had priors, was in his 20s. He was sentenced to 18 months. Before the Marijuana Tax Act, a marijuana charge in Denver would have led to 60 days in a Denver County Jail, not years of hard labor.
Police Interrogation was Harsh
Police Interrogation was not unusual. The Wickersham reports, a comprehensive set of reports noting the problems with police enforcement of drinking during prohibition, had four years earlier remarked on the frequency and harsh police interrogation methods.
“[t]he third degree that is, the use of physical brutality, or other forms of cruelty, to obtain involuntary “confessions or admissions is widespread.” National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931)
In 1936, just a year before the Denver bust, the Supreme Court made the first decision to overturn a criminal conviction that the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause was violated by an involuntary confession. Brown vs. Mississippi 297 U.S. 278 (1936) declared harsh police interrogation an unconstitutional method to gain a confession.
Intoxicating Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Discovery
Marijuana possession was easier to measure than drunkenness. Overseas, a Swedish scientists, Erik Widmark, was on the final frontier of developing a formula to determine blood alcohol concentration levels. In 1931, a few years before the Marijuana Tax Act, and a couple years before Prohibition ended, the Chief of the Research Division at the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prohibition wrote to Mr. Widmark on the problems of testing for drunkenness, hoping to find a median line for measuring drunkenness more scientifically than the arbitrary “walk the chalk” tests. Leading scientists around the world joined in on Widmark’s BAC algebraic equation. It is the predecessor for BAC blood levels as we measure them today. In 1936, Dr. Rolla Harger received a patent for his Drunkometer, a machine that measured blood alcohol by having a person blow into it.
In 1938, the National Safety Council formed a small Committee on Tests for Intoxication, of which Rolla Harger was a member. This committee formed the draft for a model statute concerning drunk drivers and BAC levels that divided drinking drivers into three classes:
- .05% or less BAC, driver was not under the influence of alcohol.
- A BAC in excess of .05% but less than .15% means the driver may or may not be under the influence, and additional evidence should be taken into consideration.
- With a BAC of .15% or higher, it’s safe to presume the driver was under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
In 1939, Indiana passed the first the first driving under the influence law based on a blood-alcohol content level—.15%—the first “per se” DUI BAC law.
Rock, Race, Drugs and Drunks
In 1950, Dr. R. R. Borkenstein invented the Breathalyzer. During the early efforts of DUI BAC enforcement, the breath analyzer machines used were the Drunkometer, the Breatholizer and the Alcometer.
|While scientists, lawyers, judges and committees were testing and analyzing BAC levels in drinking and driving cases, the Korean War and Cuban Revolution were taking place and satellites were put into orbit. School segregation was declared unconstitutional, the polio vaccine was introduced to children, and the DNA helix was discovered. The first color TVs were going on sale and minimum wage was raised from seventy-five cents an hour to a dollar an hour. McDonalds incorporated, and the first major credit card was introduced.|
Elvis was signing across the airwaves in the 1950s, and the Boggs Act of 1951 created mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were spearing the Civil Rights movement, and the Narcotic Control Act of 1956 increased penalties for marijuana sales and possession. In 1957, seatbelts were introduced in a prototype car, and by 1959, all states required a driver’s license to drive. That same year, Alaska and Hawaii became a state.
By the end of the decade, Colorado’s population was well over a million. The Denver Regional Council of Governments was formed, the Colorado ACLU headquartered its office in Denver, the Denver Coliseum was built, and the I-70 was approved for expansion. It was also in the 1950s that the alcoholic withdrawal symptoms of convulsion and delirium were recognized by the World Health Organization.
Summoning Civil Liberties in the Sixties through the Supreme Court
Between the increased attention on drug control and the riotous overtones of the civil rights decades, law enforcement struggled. Civil liberties were at the forefront of discussions, legislation, and court cases. Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454 (1960) held that segregation on public transportation was illegal. Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339 (1960) declared that electoral boundaries to exclude blacks were illegal. Loving vs. Virginia 388 U.S. 1 (1967) declared laws banning interracial marriages were unconstitutional.
Birth control was banned in some states, and Griswold v. Connecticut 381 U.S. 479 (1965) declared the ban unconstitutional giving a leg up to the Right to Privacy. The 1958 Connecticut law being argued stated:
“Any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days nor more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned.” – General Statutes of Connecticut Sections 53-32 and 54-196 (1958 rev.)
Due process and search and seizure constitutional rights demanded by the 14th Amendment were also addressed in the Supreme Court during the 1960s. In Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52 (1961) it was announced that an arraignment without an attorney present violated the 14th Amendment Due Process clause. Mapp v. Ohio 367 U.S. 643 (1961) determined that evidence collected under a search and seizure that violated the 14th amendment was not admissible. Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236 (1963) gave power for inmates to approach the courts for unlawful imprisonment through habeas corpus. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) declared that it was a constitutional right for defendants to have an attorney, even if they cannot afford a lawyer.
Perhaps the most well-known case of the 1960s is Miranda vs. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966). This case gave criminal suspects their “Miranda Rights.” The decision declares that suspected criminals have the right to an attorney, and they are required to be informed of their constitutional rights and the right against of self-incrimination, prior to any questioning taking place by the police.
Dangerous Cars, Mental Patients and Alcoholics
In the 1960s, New York and California passed laws that allowed for involuntary hospitalization of narcotic-addicted individuals arrested for drug-related crimes. In 1963, Congress passed the Community Mental Health Services Act of 1963, which provided funding for local community mental health services as an alternative to institutionalism at state psychiatric hospitals. This was the last piece of legislation that John F. Kennedy signed.
In 1966, Congress passed the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act (NARA), a federal law that allowed for commitment of persons with addictions to narcotics. These laws first led to a move towards deinstitutionalization, which communities weren’t prepared for. Laws then shifted to create standards based on dangerousness. Lake vs. Cameron 364 F.2d 657 (D.C. Cir. 1966) declared that patients who were not dangerous should be in the least restrictive confining environment.
Dangerousness was also addressed in vehicle and highway safety. During the 1960s Ralph Nader brought media attention to vehicle safety by publishing Unsafe at Any Speed in 1965. In 1966, the National Highway Safety Bureau was formed. In 1967, the National Highway Safety Bureau developed a highway program “Alcohol in Relation to Highway Safety.” Section 204 of the Highway Safety Act of 1966 referred to the alcohol program in an effort to accelerate state safety efforts to receive federal funding for highways. This alcohol program contained standards that the 50 state were expected to meet.
By the 1960s, it was clear that drinking and driving increased accident rates compared to chance, but the focus was largely on alcoholics. Alcoholics were found to have worse driving records than non-alcoholics, but the social drinker had been largely unexamined in comparison. But that would change in the next couple decades.
Model Penal Code of 1962
The courts were loudly protecting the constitutional rights of criminal suspects, and protecting detainees from unlawful police interrogation. Civil liberties were being set in stone, and mental health codes were slowly changing. But perhaps the most significant act of the 1960s for criminal law and felony sentencing was the Model Penal Code of 1962.
The Model Penal Code Project started in 1951 by the American Law Institute. There were earlier attempts in 1931, but the project lacked funding. Criminal laws were generally compiled by order of legislative sessions. The height of criminal code organization was the federal initiative to alphabetize federal offenses. The American Law Institute was not a government agency, but was an association of top-tier judges, lawyers and law professors. The goal was to draft a model code that states could use to formulate state criminal codes, thereby establishing an essence of uniformity and guidance.
The Model Penal Code of 1962 established uniform ideologies for American criminal law, and extended laws to govern the type of punishment. The Code was not a requirement, it was a highly recommended suggestion. It was originally referred to as “Penal and Correctional Code” and created divisions between defining the basic criminal law, and defining the correctional aspects of the law. In 1962 an entire section of the Model Penal Code was dedicated to mental illness, and an advisory group of psychiatrists was called in to assist the legal writers. The structure of the Code was set up so that judges, lawyer and jurors could refer to it with greater ease, thereby increasing the efficiencies of legal proceedings while creating consistencies. However, the 1962 version contained no drug offenses. The extent of drug and alcohol references were in the appendix:
“…a State enacting a new Penal Code may insert additional articles dealing with special topics such as narcotics, alcoholic beverages, gambling and offenses against tax and trade laws.” – Model Penal Code Draft 1962
Criminal law was, and still is, a state issue. A felony was originally defined in Colorado’s State Constitution <link to Part 3 History Felony DUI Colorado Becomes a State 1800s> in 1867. In the early 1600s English Common Law was the norm. Once the United States Constitution was developed in the 1700s and our country’s freedom was established, lawmakers went on a continuing spree of legal development. America was concerned with reform, and reforming punishment.
The U.S. Constitution grants states the power to impose criminal liability, except in cases of federal interest. Once America declared independence from England, America turned from a land governed by English Common Law and Religious Law, to a land of Constitutional protections, religious freedom and individual liberties. But it was the Model Penal Code of 1962 that started a massive reform of state criminal laws. The quest for uniformity and guidance inspired examination and debate.
To compare, today Colorado has eleven classes of offenses. Six classes of felonies, three classes of misdemeanors and two classes of petty offenses. Federal Sentencing Guidelines have over 43 levels.
An official statement in the 1962 Code rebuked minimum sentencing mandates:[It’s the] “firm position of the Institute that legislatively mandated minimum sentences are unsound,” – Official Comment, Model Penal Code 1962
In the 2011 draft of the Model Penal Code, this position against minimum sentencing was confirmed, and strengthened with the agreement of the American Bar Association, the Federal Judicial Conference, and the United States Sentencing Commission. . The 2014 Model Penal Code Draft goes as far to recommend early release from probation and other incentives, using the “carrot” rather than the “stick.”
Colorado adopted its version of the Model Penal Code in 1972, Title 18, Colorado Criminal Code.
Today, the National Conference of State Legislatures has developed its own principles for criminal sentencing policies. A 2011 report prepared by Alison Lawrence, policy specialist, and Donna Lyons, group director, for the Criminal Justice Program in NCSL’s Denver, Colorado office for the National Conference of State Legislatures, includes seven policy goals for sentencing and corrections:
Clearly, the proposed 2015 felony DUI bill does not follow modern sentencing guidelines.
Death, Deceit and Drug Treatment of the Seventies
The same year Colorado adopted the Model Penal Code, the landmark case Furman vs. Georgia 408 U.S. 238 (1972) held that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore, unconstitutional. Death Penalty executions halted, and states began changing laws. In 1976, that ruling was overturned with Gregg v. Georgia 428 U.S. 153 (1976). Colorado reinstated the death penalty in 1975.
|The 70s were marked by Kent State, Vietnam, and Nixon’s Watergate. The VCR, Walkman and Atari were introduced, Bill Gate founded Microsoft, and PBS began operation. Denver’s Jack Swigert returned safely to Earth from the Apollo 13, and Elvis died. Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion, and the first test tube baby was born. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was started, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law, and airbags were the new safety feature in cars. The 26th Amendment was added to the Constitution prohibited age discrimination in voting laws for anyone 18 years of age or older.|
Nixon Impounds Funds for Community Mental Health Centers and Forms Anti-Drug Forces
In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was signed by President Nixon. In this Act, drugs were assigned to a schedule based on dangerous potential, and strict records were required for drugs. Marijuana became a Schedule 1 drug, and was declared to have no medical use. Also within the Act, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse was formed. That same year, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana) was formed. In 1971, Nixon declared a War on Drugs, and the stage was set for the upcoming Drug War of the 1980s.
From the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, the “Shafer Report” evolved: “Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding.” This report spoke of marijuana’s pacifying effect and the unsubstantiated claims of previous decades. It recommended decriminalization. Despite marijuana being listed a Schedule 1 drug (and it still is), states decided to decriminalize marijuana based on the Shafer reports. Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, and Colorado (Colo. Rev. Stat 18-18-406(1)) followed suit in 1975. Nine other states decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s. Four of those states (California, Nebraska, Nevada and New York) added repeat offender laws that increased fines, mandated drug treatment, and increased prison. Minnesota and Mississippi increased fines and prison for having marijuana in a motor vehicle. In 1974, the National Institute for Drug Abuse was formed.
But no matter how popular marijuana was, drinking pleasures never went away. By the mid-70s, the majority of traffic accidents were alcohol-related. In programs to deter drinking and driving, alcoholics were the focus, and the social drinker was not addressed. Unfortunately, community health centers were getting a beating under Nixon. There were rumors of financial mismanagement in the National Institute of Health, and just before Nixon resigned for the Watergate scandal, he impounded funds previously legislated to mental health programs.
Community mental health centers were at the center of congressional scrutiny under Nixon as they attempted to retrieve the impounded funds, and mental health became a burning political force. Eventually, due to the Congressional hearing examining defects and inefficiencies, new requirements for the centers to coordinate with mental hospitals, offer follow-up care, therapy, and add specialized programs for alcoholics and drug abusers were added to the Act and became requirements. The five essential services originally required in the Act were extended to twelve.
Mental Health and Marijuana Decriminalization Try to Heal
When President Carter began his term, he formed the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which identified the crisis of the mentally ill being released and left to fend for themselves without support. His goal was to coordinate law enforcement, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation and prevention, and regulatory activities. It was a daunting effort.
|To improve the quality of Federal drug treatment, I am recommending these steps:• In recognition of the devastating effects that certain nonopiate drugs can have if abused, I am directing the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to expand resources devoted to care for abusers of barbiturates, amphetamines, and multiple drugs used in combination, including alcohol.• To help drug abusers return to productive lives, I am directing the Secretary of Labor to identify all Federal employment assistance programs which can help former drug abusers and to give me, within 120 days, his recommendations for increasing the access of drug abusers to them.• A sustained effort must be made to identify the reasons that people turn to drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes. We should seek more effective ways to make people aware of the health problems associated with such substances (particularly cigarettes and alcohol) and to respond in more constructive ways to the human and psychological needs they satisfy-Jimmy Carter, August 2, 1977|
President Carter also wanted to decriminalize marijuana.
“The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations. Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would receive a fine rather than a criminal penalty.” – Jimmy Carter, August 2, 1977
1980s Drug Wars and the Influence of MADD and Breathalyzers on Drinking and Driving
President Reagan took over in 1980 and immediately reversed Carter’s policy, taking away most of the funding and mental health treatment guidelines while slashing the housing budget. Regan’s Omnibus Reconciliation Act allowed for a state block grant for substance abuse, with few restrictions on how communities were to spend the money. In comparison to the money that remained for funding, the cuts to Alcohol, Drug-Abuse, and Mental Health Services grants were disproportionately high compared to other block grant services (26% compared to 12%).
While mental health services were being drastically cut and a new Drug War was getting ready to take place, the effects of drinking and driving were not going unnoticed. In 1980, a mother who lost a child in a fatal car accident due to a drunk driver formed the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving to fight drunk driving. In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended standardized field sobriety tests. MADD invested money in media, and targeted the previously-ignored social drinker. Since MADD’s 1980s start, fatal alcohol-related accidents have been cut in half. A steady 17 year decline continued until 1997. As media attention to drunk driving increased, so did the laws. In 1981, 44 drunk driving laws were passed. In 1985, 223 new laws were passed. In 1987, 216 DUI laws were enacted in 45 states.
In 1982, President Regan formed the Commission on Drunk Driving, and MADD became a part of the task force group. Sobriety Checkpoints were started across the nation, and the constitutionality was argued in Michigan Department of State Police vs. Sitz 496 U.S. 444 (1990). In 1984, the Uniform Drinking Act made it a law that states could not receive highway funding unless the increased the drinking age to 21.
In 1988, Public corporation Lifeloc (Wheat Ridge Colorado) introduced their first breathalyzer to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Drug War Gets Money, Marijuana Gets Mandatory Sentence
In 1986, Regan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which raised federal penalties for marijuana and created mandatory sentences for drug related crimes. It also increased spending to $1.7 billion for the Drug War.
Prisons held record high numbers of inmates, and overcrowding became an issue. Because of the prison overcrowding, which was result of new mandatory minimum prison sentencing, alternatives to sentencing for low-level offenders were developed. House arrest, electronic monitoring, boot camps, community service and higher fines were developed as alternatives.
|In 2013, Colorado’s Senate Bill SB-250 devised separate sentencing rules for drug offenses, authorized probation and alternative sentencing, and required sentencing to “exhaust alternative sentencing options.” HB-1156 created an adult diversion program to prevent repeat crimes.|
Homelessness Reaches a New High
The effects of budget cuts and ignoring the mentally ill meant homelessness reached new heights in the 1980s. In 1983, HUD completed the first national point-in-time study to gather data on homelessness. The data brought attention to the severity of the problem.
In 1987, Regan signed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program Act. The Interagency Council on Homelessness was created under the Act, and 20 assistance programs were granted. Today, the Act provides “dry” and “wet” housing communities, and housing opportunities for alcohol and drug substance abusers.
In 1989 George Bush joined in on the War on Drugs and created the Office of National Drug Control Policy. By the end of the decade, the 80s were considered Colorado’s worst economic period since the Great Depression.
The Drug War Filled the Prisons
Colorado had an incarceration increase of 45% between 1984 and 1991, which was slightly below the national average of a 47%. The majority of these were property crimes. Funding state correction institutions from 1980 to 1994 jumped from four billion dollars to $21 billion.
Though crime decreased during the decade, a state-by-state study by The Sentencing Project completed in 2000 found that federal data obscured state data, and high prison rates equaled higher crime rates compared to states that had lower prison rates. The comprehensive study also found the trend between incarceration and crime rates were not consistent. Incarceration went consistently up over three decades, but crime rates increased and decreased, and states with lower incarceration rates could have an equally (or better) reduction of crime as states with higher incarceration rates. Therefore other variables such as economies and police policies were at play. Steve Pinker, a popular science author and linguist, points this out in his 800 page book, The Better Angles of Our Future: Why Violence has Declined. In Chapter 3, The Civilizing Process, he shows the association between various civil rights increases and the associated decreases in violent crime. For example, as the attention to women’s equality grew, rape and battery declined. Attention to inner-city violence increased innovative police programs to those areas. Canada and Western Europe had declines in violence and crime, and they did not have the incarceration spurts that America did. If incarceration was directly responsible for a lower crime rate, then the constant association would stick through long-term trends, but it doesn’t.
“The Great Crime Decline of the 1990s was part of a change in sensibilities that can fairly be called a civilizing process.” – The Better Angles of Our Future: Why Violence has Declined, Steve Pinker, page 125
Colorado finally began to show a decrease in incarceration during the 21st century, as did other states.
The long prison trend is largely due to longer mandatory sentences, and the Drug War. The Sentencing Project reported on their 2011 Fact Sheet that state prisons hold eleven times more drug offenders since the 1980s, and half of federal prisoners are in jail for drug offenses.
The 1990s Brewed Serious Sobriety Testing and BAC Bribery for Under 21
At the beginning of 1990, Colorado’s population was over three million. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and it included physical and mental disabilities, but the Compassionate Use Drug Program was ended. The Denver Broncos had a great year, but behind all the celebrating (or sobbing) over six-packs, research on BAC DUI laws was foaming.
By 1992, the International Association of Police Chiefs adopted uniform procedures for sobriety testing training, and the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration officially recommend the adoption of .08 BAC level for illegal driving. Ignition Interlocks were proven effective and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) adopted and published Model Specifications for Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices (BAIIDs) (57 FR 11772.) In 1993, the “Click it or Ticket” campaign was launched, and Bill Clinton was elected President.
Once again, federal highway funds were used as bait to change drinking laws. The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 required states to pass DUI laws with .02 or lower BAC levels for drivers under the age of 21 in order to receive federal funding for highways.
Colorado Police Are Good at Recognizing DUI Offenders
In 1995, a Colorado study of police sobriety checks was completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Officers had a high accuracy rate of detecting drunkenness based on field sobriety tests. Police Officers with ten years of training had made over 1000 DUI arrests over a decade. In 2012, Colorado Springs Police Sergeant and DRE Craig Simpson was named the recipient of the 2012 Colorado Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Centennial Award by the Colorado Impaired Driving Steering Committee.
In 1996, California legalized medical marijuana and the Mental Health Parity Act was signed. This act required some equality with mental health and substance abuse programs by health insurance plans. It was expanded in 2008 to assure that health insurance agencies put mental health and substance abuse benefit regulations on par with physical health visits and co-pays.
In 1998, Bill Clinton recommends all states adopt .08 BAC level as a measure for illegal drunk driving, and airbags were made a mandatory safety features in cars and trucks. The same year, Colorado passed the Persistent Drunk Driver Act. Penalties were increased for drunk drivers with a high BAC and repeat drunk driving offenders. In 2013 (in effect for 2014), the law was revised to include treatment and ignition interlock devices.
By the end of 1998, more than 1.8 million people were in state and federal prisons and racial disparity was evident. Vera Institute found that prison budgets were actually 13% higher than what the corrections budget showed.
“If locking up those who violate the law contributed to safer societies, then the United States should be the safest country in the world.” Committee on Justice. Canadian House of Commons
21st Century Arrives, DUI Laws Pick Up Speed in Colorado
With the Internet remarkable speed of adoption (doubling every year from the late 1990s to 2000), information could be collected and shared at new speeds. The government grew more transparent and records more accessible. Drinking and driving policies, and felony sentencing policies, could be reviewed based on more timely, accessible data.
In 2000, the topic changed to marijuana once again, but for legalization, not prohibition. In 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana, and in 2012, recreational marijuana was made legal as well, though it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Colorado fatal accidents from alcohol have experienced a long-term decline, and MADD gave Colorado a 5 out of 5 star rating. Colorado’s Designated Driver Program has been awarded the honor of being 5th in the nation.
In 2001, Colorado’s first drug court was established in La Plata County. In 2006, Colorado started its own Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving from Senate Bill 06-192 in response to a young girl killed by a repeat offender drunk driver. Committees were formed to address persistent drunk drivers, intervention, ignition interlocks, systems improvement and victim rights. The Task Force on Drunk Driving in Colorado is responsible for contributing to Colorado DUI legislative changes on administration licensing, sentencing, and discusses the felony DUI initiatives. (Meetings are open to the public.)
Colorado began a decrease in incarceration from 1999, but that ended in 2010 and prison sentences increased.
In 2013 and 2014 a felony DUI bill was proposed in Colorado to increase prison sentencing for repeat offender, but it failed. In 2015, it was revived, and will be up for a Senate vote before then end of 2015. The bill contains no treatment initiatives or prison alternatives, and it is a step back to the sentencing policies during the Drug War <insert link to Jay and Waller debate>. Colorado’s one-year recidivism rate is about 5%, but the Colorado 3-year recidivism rates for prisoners has traditionally been close to 50%. A felony status carries a lifetime “collateral consequence” that doesn’t go away. It’s proven that a drinking mind is not a rational mind, so creating a Felony DUI Law for repeat offenders will not work as a deterrent, since decision-making skills are needed to deter someone. Repeat DUI offenders that hurt or kill someone are already subject to felony DUI laws.
Use Colorado’s Money from Marijuana Legalization Wisely
Money from the 1980s and 1990s got sidetracked to fund the prison system instead of health programs. A cascade of problems for society resulted. Sobriety checkpoints have been proven to work. Drug courts have been proven to work. New discoveries have been made in addiction, alcohol and substance abuse, yet the money hasn’t been invested with the same force and ease as throwing money at the prisons.
Since 1978, the prison rate per 100,000 has increased 300%. Corrections spending has gone from 3.1% in 1986 (as a percentage of total spending) to 8.4% in 2013. Nationally, between 2009 and 2011, $1.8 million dollars was cut from state mental health budgets. To compare, consider the National Institute of Mental Health has a budget of $1.4 billion. The time to sift spending to prevention is long overdue. Spending on incarceration continues to be at high levels, but mental health and education – the two areas of spending most likely to deter future drinking and driving episodes – grow at a snail’s pace, or not at all. In 2014, Colorado spending for mental health was put on hold, despite the increase in drug and alcohol problems from the Aurora shooting.
Colorado has a unique opportunity and the money available to examine and update treatment programs for DUI offenders so first offenses don’t become repeat offenses. Alcohol sensors will soon (relatively speaking) be in cars, and eventually they may be as second-nature as seat-belts and airbags. Take Colorado’s money and write new DUI sentencing policies aligned with 21st century for repeat DUI offenders, not the draconian prison measurements of the Drug War years that hurt society as much as it did the prisoners. It’s time to use modern data, modern science, and invest in preventative measures.
Deterrence is a principle with much immediate appeal. . . . But much crime is committed on impulse, given the opportunity presented by an open window or unlocked door…” Malign Neglect: Race, Crime and Punishment in America, Michael Tonry, page 18 (1995)
Are You Going to Prison for a DUI?
If you’ve received a DUI and are afraid you’re going to prison, you’ll need an experienced attorney to go over the sentencing options with you, and discuss the strategies for your case. You could face prison and very high fines if you’ve received a DUI, but an expert DUI attorney will test the case and examine all sentencing options. The DUI laws in Colorado change rapidly. An expert DUI attorney keeps up with the laws, and you need that. If you’ve received a DUI and are afraid of going to jail, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm in Denver at (303) DUI-5280 for advice and help with your case today.